How was your first quarter? 3 questions you need to answer – Now!
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2014
The first quarter of 2012 is officially behind us. How’d your business do? Here are three questions you’ll want to ask yourself to prepare for the rest of the year.
Wow! The first quarter of 2012 is over. It’s in the books. How did your company do? If your business is like ours, things have been moving so quickly that it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. This is a great time to step back, take a deep breath, and determine where you are going for the balance of the year. Enough time has elapsed for you to see some trends, but there is still enough year left to make meaningful changes that will impact your annual results. We suggest answering three questions:
1. How did your business do? Do you know how your business did in Q1? At this writing, we are just into April, so perhaps your books aren’t closed for the first quarter, but they should be closed by the 15th at the latest. In our experience, too many small businesses don’t close their books in a timely manner. That’s the rough equivalent of trying to call plays in a football game without knowing the score, the time left or the down and distance.
When you get your Q1 financials, will they have the information you need to know exactly where you stand? Some things you should see in your financial statements are:
2. Did you achieve your goals? Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you may wind up somewhere else.” Do you have a clear plan for where you want your business to go? If so, how did you do relative to your revenue goals, spending targets and profit plans. Too often, plans are made, but then they sit in a drawer, #NotHelpful! Get them out and see how your company is doing. If you don’t have goals, now is a great time to establish them.
Metrics without context are meaningless. If you are told that sales in the northeast region were $45,605 in the first quarter, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Without context you can’t possibly know. But, if we also told you that the revenue budget for the northeast in Q1 was $43,000, you would know that, from a revenue perspective, it was a good quarter. Goals provide necessary context for your metrics. Additional context can be provided by history and competitive comparisons.
3. What changes are you going to make? Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results. Don’t be insane! If you aren’t happy with your results from the first quarter, change what you are doing. Changes can be thought of in three categories:
Hopefully, your 2012 is off to a fantastic start. If changes are needed, don’t procrastinate. There is still time to positively impact your year, but time is slipping away quickly.
Doug and Polly White are Principals at Whitestone Partners; a management-consulting firm that helps small businesses build the infrastructure they need to grow profitably. They are also coauthors of the groundbreaking new book, Let Go to Grow: Why Some Businesses Thrive and Others Fail to Reach Their Potential (Palari Publishing 2011). The book explains how entrepreneurs can avoid the most common pitfalls as their businesses grow and is available at www.WhitestonePartnersInc.com
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